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An undated photograph by Joaquín Urbina. An undated photograph by Joaquín Urbina. museo del estanquillo

Museum exhibition shows Mexico in photos from 1860 to 1910

Historian describes Mexico as 'a photographic powerhouse'

Photographs of middle and upper-class citizens, literary figures, politicians, circus performers, singers, as well as objects from 1860 to 1910, when photography became popular in Mexico, are on display at an exhibition in Mexico City.

Mirror Out of Your Skin is a collection of photographs that celebrates the 180th anniversary of the arrival of the daguerreotype in Mexico.

Over 700 photographs are divided into 36 thematic groups and in chronological order beginning in 1860.

The taking of portraits was commercialized in that year with the use of glass photographic plates that allowed people to make copies of small portraits known as “cartes de visite” (visiting cards in French).

“The exhibition is also a homage to 19th-century Mexican photographers who gave the image to Mexicans, both the powerful and those in the middle class who could afford to have their photo taken,” said curator Gustavo Amézaga Heiras.

Carmen Mondragón, who later became a model, painter and poet, in 1896.
Carmen Mondragón, who later became a model, painter and poet, in 1896.

Also on display will be a number of objects and pieces that give an account of how the phenomenon of photography permeated daily life at the time. It will include objects like photo albums and original pieces of furniture featured in the pictures.

Amézaga said the exhibition also includes the albums of prominent businessmen and the health records of prostitutes from 1868, which are normally housed in the Miguel Lerdo de Tejada Library in Mexico City.

Critic and art historian José Antonio Rodríguez, who participated in a pre-inaugural viewing of the exhibition, said Mexico is a country that really took to photography.

“We are one of the few countries that has photographic power. We don’t have economic power, we have terrible social problems, but we are a photographic powerhouse,” he said.

Rodríguez added that the 19th century in Mexico was complex, an era that saw great changes in photography.

The exhibition is on until next April at the Museo del Estanquillo (Museum of the Little Shop) at Isabel La Católica 26 in Mexico City’s historic center.

Source: La Jornada (sp)

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